The unrest around Java, however -- and particularly Oracle's pending litigation against Google -- is one topic Ellison cannot possibly ignore. According to reports, Ellison will be joined onstage at the show by Thomas Kurian, Oracle's executive vice president for product development, to discuss "Oracle's vision for strengthened investment and innovation in Java and describe how Java will continue to grow as the most powerful, scalable, secure, and open platform for the global developer community."
Weather system observed in teapot
So how significant is Google's absence from this year's JavaOne? Let's keep some perspective. Google is a big company, but although it has attended JavaOne in the past, its participation in the conference has never had a great impact. "Google is not a sponsor of JavaOne," wrote IDG News reporter Robert McMillan in 2009, "and the search giant has a minimal presence at this year's show."
Nor does it need much of a presence. That same search giant sponsors its own Google I/O developer conferences, also held annually in San Francisco, which cover a variety of topics relative to Google's Web-centric computing philosophy. This year's conference had such a strong emphasis on Android development that Google shipped free Android smartphones to every attendee in advance of the show.
And while it might be expedient for Google to give the impression that JavaOne is a hostile environment that crowds out dissenting voices, there's little real evidence of that. Last year, Microsoft delivered its first-ever keynote at a JavaOne conference, in which it pitched interoperability between Java and Microsoft's own .Net development platform. Oracle is a bitter rival of Microsoft, but so was Sun, having fought and won a protracted court battle over Microsoft's divergent implementation of Java six years ago.
At the end of the day, what Google really achieves by pulling out of JavaOne now is press coverage. The conference was never that important to the company, but winning the good graces of the Java development community definitely is, particularly if it foresees a lengthy legal squabble with Oracle over Android.
Time to move forward
Android developers will have already made up their minds about the Google/Oracle dispute. The rest of the Java development community, on the other hand, should take the present rumors of unrest with a healthy grain of salt. If anything, the fact that S&S Media is planning a second Java trade show in the Bay Area should be seen as proof that the Java developer ecosystem remains healthy and lively, with a bold future under Oracle's direction.
More important is just what Oracle might announce at the upcoming show. The promise of "strengthened investment and innovation" in the Java platform is good news, but so far Oracle company has been light on details. It's high time Larry Ellison outlined clear, specific goals for the next generation of the platform. And if he happens to see James Gosling's T-shirts in the audience while he does so, he should remember it's not because we're angry -- it's because we care.
This article, "Excitement brewing for JavaOne 2010, with or without Google" originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Neil McAllister's Fatal Exception blog and follow the latest news in programming at InfoWorld.com.